Endorsement: Yes for building and security improvements at District 21 schools
The Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 board wants to borrow $69 million to secure and air-condition its schools, to carve out the space in order to finally offer full-day kindergarten, to invest in the roofs, the plumbing and the paving and update old classroom furniture.
This is not a frivolous project. The district's buildings have serious needs for upgrading, including the very important fact that children must be protected. Parents should be able to send their kids to school each day without fear. And educators must be free to teach without wondering if today is the day they'll have to bar their classroom door against an armed intruder.
It's a terrible thing to have to contemplate, but District 21 is doing the right thing. The board has been a good steward of taxpayer money.
That this referendum will pave the way for full-day kindergarten is a strong point in its favor. Study after study shows that children in full-day kindergarten and early childhood classes get the kind of start to their education that pays dividends all the way up the line.
As a very diverse school district, socially and economically, District 21 is not always the choice of young families. Passage of a $69 million referendum could help change that. After all, when a community invests in itself, it sends a positive signal outward. That's good for everybody, whether you have children in the school system or not. We recommend a yes vote.